Virginia & Truckee Rail fans will be able to ride its steam locomotive on Memorial Day - long before it gets to Carson City in 2010.
The state board in charge of reconstructing the 18-mile railroad from Carson City to Virginia City approved a deal with its operator Monday to run the McCloud No. 18 in Sacramento and Oakdale, Calif.
Sierra Railroad operates the excursion Sierra Railroad Dinner Train in Oakdale, Calif., and the Sacramento River Train. The Sacramento company was awarded the contract to operate the V&T by the Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T Railway in late 2006.
The commission purchased the locomotive for $420,000 from the McCloud Railway Co., which operated near Mount Shasta in Northern California. The locomotive has been in storage there since.
"It's not doing any good in storage," said Commissioner John Tyson. "It's costing us money to keep it in storage."
Robert Pinoli, vice president of tourist operations for Sierra Railroad, said for the three years the locomotive is operated in Northern California it will build anticipation for the V&T.
The company could paint an advertising billboard on the tender's side.
"We welcome that cross marketing and co-mingling of brands," he said at the Monday afternoon meeting.
They will operate it from spring to fall. The train is expected to cost $1,500 per 40 miles to operate, Pinoli said.
"Rail fans will have their interest piqued if they can ride the V&T engine for a summer on the Sacramento River Train," said Chris Hart, president of the entertainment division. The No. 18 will operate in Sacramento for a year and Oakdale for the remaining time.
The next time tourists will get an opportunity to ride the No. 18 is in 2010, when it pulls up to a train depot off Highway 50 East along the reconstructed V&T Railway.
In its first year of operation, the V&T is expected to make 360 trips with 73,000 passengers and net $420,000, according to Sierra Railroad.
To get tickets
What: The No. 18 on the rails in Sacramento and Oakdale, Calif.
When: Spring and fall operating schedules, to be decided
Cost: About $45 per adult, $20 per child. Ticket sales could start by next month
For information: Call Sierra Railroad at 800-866-1690 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily
Source: Sierra Railroad
Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.